Stewed Cactus Quesadillas / Quesadillas de Tinga de Nopal
This quesadilla has an unusual filling, stewed cactus; the stew or tinga is made with Nopals often referred to as prickly pear cactus. Once the thorns are carefully removed the cactus is quite edible tasting like a cross between a cucumber and zucchini. It can be cooked in soups and stews or used raw in salads.
• 4 cups masa harina
• 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoon dried
• 1 tablespoon achiote paste
• ¼ cup orange juice
• ¼ cup grape seed oil
Tinga de Nopal:
• 4 nopales, julienne
• ½ white onion, julienne
• 2 tomatoes, seeded, julienne
• 1 chile chipotle in adobo, diced
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
• 2 cups chicken broth, or more if needed
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• ¼ cup crema, thinned with milk to a pouring consistency
• 1 cup hard cheese, grated ( queso anejo or queso cotijo )
• 1 avocado, sliced
Prepare the Masa: In a bowl pulverize the achiote with your fingers. Dissolve the achiote in the orange juice and grape seed oil; add the marjoram mixing just to incorporate ingredients. Add 1 ½ cups of chicken broth and knead the dough until it is soft and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and does not stick to your fingers. Masa is forgiving, if too wet add more masa harina and knead well. If too dry knead in more liquid. Form into a ball, cover with a dish towel and let rest while preparing the tinga.
Prepare the Tinga: Melt the butter and sauté onion for one minute, then add the nopal, garlic, oregano, and chile chipotle and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomato, salt, pepper, ½ cup chicken broth and cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Cool and reserve.
Prepare Quesadilla: Roll the prepared masa into golf ball size pieces. Flatten with a tortilla press between circles of plastic wrap ( cut from sandwich or freezer bags) Open the press remove the top paper then lift off the tortilla. Flip the tortilla onto a work surface and remove the other piece of plastic film. Place about one heaping tablespoon of tinga de nopal in the center of each tortilla. Fold in half pinching the edges to seal. Fry in hot vegetable oil for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
To serve, drizzle the crema over quesadillas, top with grated cheese and avocado slices. Accompany with your favorite salsa.
Makes 8- 12 quesadillas